“We promise that there shall be no damage to
the Turf or undue noise.”
Surely the daughters of our Windsor Choir
Must to angelic perfectness aspire,
What mortal e’er played croquet without tattle
Without – of tongues and balls th’united rattle?
Who do not stamp upon the Turf and knock it
Indignant, when they’re made a miss at Croquet
Still to your suit the indulgent Chapter give
Condition’d and revocable leave,
First to the Horse Shoe’s inmates we confine,
Those who in this exciting game may join,
None but the children of St. George’s troop,
Shall wield the mallet there, or fix the hoop.
The Cloister is the pledge of care and quiet,
The Town would bring in trespassing and riot,
Next Croquet only we allow, not Cricket,
The single peg and not the double wicket.
By balls that into areas descend
The windows broken he that owns must mend,
No dogs must henceforth on the lawn be seen,
No refuse vile disgrace the well-kept green.
Lastly, our leave will on experience cease,
If spoiled our grass become, or spoil’d our Peace,
To your own promise be yourselves but true
“No damage to the Turf or noise undue”
The letter entitled ‘The Dean’s answer to the Daughters of the Choir’ is a lyrical response to the daughters of the lay clerks by Dean G. Wellesley on May 8 1874 [SGC ACC/2006/044]. Previously in the possession of Rosemary Marciniak, the letter was written during the period her great grandfather Thomas Hunt was a lay clerk (1865-1908). One of Thomas Hunt’s daughters wrote the initial letter to Dean Wellesley, asking whether she and others (daughters of other lay clerks) could play on the lawns. Lay clerks (choirmen) had been living in the Horseshoe Cloister since the 15th century, when the present houses were constructed to the west of St George’s Chapel.
In this humorous rhyme, Dean Wellesley lays out specific rules on who plays what and when on the green turf, and also states that ‘no undue noise’ should be heard in the Cloister. Croquet is to be played not cricket, and dogs are forbidden on the ‘well-kept green’. The fact that Dean Wellesley has outlined his responses in a witty and courteous poem shows that he is astute and, whilst cheery, blunt and to the point.
Stefanos Koutroumanidis (Archives volunteer)